Pope Tawadros II, the 118th pope of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, began a visit to Russia on Thursday, the first by an Egyptian pope in over two decades, state news agency MENA reported.
Tawadros said the visit was to promote "theological dialogue" between the churches of both states.
The visit is the first by an Egyptian pope to Russia for 26 years. In 1998, Pope Shenouda III took part in celebrations marking one thousand years of Russian Christianity.
Pope Tawadros met with Russia's Patriarch Kirill and both leaders agreed on forming a joint committee designed to "bolster educational, theological and monastic cooperation" between the churches of both states, MENA said
The pope also held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in which they discussed the situation of Christians in the Middle East, such as those fleeing violence and persecution by Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.
The Russian Orthodox Church is the world's second-largest Christian denomination after Roman Catholicism.